A very important part of a criminal case is instructing the judge or magistrate whether you want to plead guilty or not guilty. This will determine the next steps in court.

If you plead guilty, your case will proceed to sentence. The judge or magistrate will then consider your case and determine an appropriate penalty.

If you plead not guilty, the case will proceed to a hearing or trial. The prosecutor will then try to persuade a magistrate, judge or jury that you are guilty of the offence/s you are charged with.

By pleading not guilty, you are telling the court that you do not accept that you have committed the offence/s you are charged with. You are telling the court that you are innocent.


When do I plead not guilty?

There are many stages in the court process where you can plead not guilty. The first time you attend court, your lawyer may indicate to the judge or magistrate that you intend to plead not guilty. This will allow the judge or magistrate to make the appropriate arrangements early on to avoid delay, such as ordering police to serve the brief of evidence.

If you are charged with a serious offence, the official occasion to enter a plea of not guilty is in the District Court at arraignment.

If you are charged with a less serious offence, you will usually enter a plea of not guilty in the Local Court by the second court appearance.


How do I plead not guilty?

If you are in the District Court, your charges will be read out to you one by one and you will be asked if you wish to plead guilty or not guilty. It is then a simple matter of responding “not guilty” to each offence.

In the Local Court, you or your legal representative can simply tell the magistrate that you are pleading not guilty.


What do I do if I change my mind?

It is possible to change your plea from guilty to not guilty. This process is called “traversing a plea”. However, this is a very difficult process and should be avoided if possible. This is why it is very important to consider your plea carefully.

You can more easily change your plea from not guilty to guilty. This is a simple process and can be done at any stage up until the very end of your hearing or trial. However, it is better to enter a plea of guilty earlier rather than later as this may entitle you to a discount on sentence.


Should I plead not guilty?

Pleading guilty or not guilty is a very important and difficult decision. If you are charged with an offence, a skilled defence lawyer will be able to advise you as to the most effective way to deal with your matter based on the strength of the evidence against you.


How can we help you?

Making the right decision about how to plead is crucial to securing the best possible outcome in court, whether that is a verdict of not guilty or a more lenient sentence.

Criminal law is complex, and it can be easy to make a mistake without the right legal assistance.

Nyman Gibson Miralis can provide you with expert advice and representation throughout all stages of your criminal case, from the moment you are charged through to the arraignment, trial or sentencing, and the finalisation of the case.

Contact us if you require assistance.